Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mission San Fernando

By now we have visited quite a few of the Catholic missions along the coast of California. This mission is the seventeenth in that chain, it was started in 1787. The current church, pictured above, is an exact replica of the original edifice erected  between 1804 and 1806. On the grounds of the mission are the graves of Bob Hope and his wife Delores. In 2003, the year he died, they had been married 69 years. John's first question, after he bought our admission tickets to the mission, was : "why is Bob Hope's grave here?" To which the clerk curtly replied: "his wife put him here".  I laughed at that, John certainly got his comeuppance for his inquisitive questions! John asked a different staff worker the same question later and the story we got then was that when Delores asked Bob where he wanted to be buried his reply was: "surprise me".
 In back of the graves, under the alcove, is a beautiful statuary created by Anna Hyatt Huntington. The bronze reproduction is titled "Holy Family Resting- Flight into Egypt".  Mary, Joseph and even the donkey certainly give off the impression that their trip was a bit difficult!
The burial plot of the Hopes is located in a small section of the rather extensive gardens of the mission. The mission has kept a lot of its land over the years despite its location in such a large metropolitan area as Los Angeles. In 1819 it had 121,542 acres. Through the years it has kept the church, convent, cemetery, workshops, and the foreman's house. And it has added a museum and the Archival Center for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The convent itself is a very impressive adobe building of two stories. Completed in 1822 its famous corridor has twenty-one Roman arches and the original iron grilles.
Across the street from the mission is the Mission Mortuary and Memory Garden. The gardens here are as equally beautiful as we found them at the mission. It is hard to believe that all this quiet beauty is located between two busy highways. The connecting street between those highways runs right pass the mission.

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